There is no denying it, the Christmas season is upon us. This Sunday marks the first message in a new 5-week series called “When God Came Down,” at LifePoint Church. We’re not changing course from the Gospel of Mark though, in fact, we’re rolling right on through with chapters 3 and 4.
If you’re familiar with Mark 3 and 4—or if you sneak a peek right now—you are probably scratching your head wondering what these two chapters have to with Christmas.
I gave a lot of thought and prayer to our biblical emphasis for the Christmas season this year at LPC. I was considering if we should take a hiatus from Mark’s gospel (which doesn’t contain a narrative of Jesus’ birth) into Matthew 1 or Luke 2, or another assortment of more classic “Christmas” texts. I decided against it. As we plow through Mark 3 and 4, we’ll be encountering 5 different passages that contain exactly zero references to mangers, wise men, shepherds tending their flocks by night, or Herod the king. What we will encounter are multitudes following Jesus beside the sea, the original 12 apostles being commissioned and sent out, Jesus’ teaching on family and the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, four parables about the kingdom of God, and the calming of a great storm.
Why are we going this direction? Or maybe another way to ask that question: Why are we staying the course in Mark?
As I prayed through this course, I started getting the sense that what we need this year as a church family at LPC isn’t the same Christmas story told with a new twist, but the heart of the Christmas miracle coming to life through Mark 3 and 4.
What is the Christmas miracle? In a word: Incarnation. The incarnation of Jesus, as God in the flesh, is ultimately what Christmas is all about. It happened in a set time and place in history, and a manger, wise men, shepherds, and an evil king are all part of the story. Yet the point of the story is that in Jesus God came down to earth to usher in the kingdom of God. Charles Spurgeon said, “God has such affection for our race that he has married our nature to himself.” The incarnation of Jesus is the birth of the gospel, and everything that Jesus said and did while on earth grows out of the incarnation.
This is why I believe Mark 3 and 4 are great chapters to be in at Christmas time. In these two chapters we see what Jesus said about God’s kingdom and what Jesus did to bring it to humanity. In this way, I believe any text in the four gospels could rightly be preached as a Christmas text. They are all “incarnation” texts, making them eternally applicable in a season where the birth of Christ is celebrated. I’m looking forward to celebrating when God came down with the LifePoint Church family this December.